Five steps to taking down a turkey

One of our daughters recently said the thought of making dinner every night for the rest of her life can nearly trigger a panic attack.

I feel the same way each year as Thanksgiving rolls around and I have to cook a turkey.

To prep or to panic, that is the question.

Every fiber of my being longs to be a woman who awakens Thanksgiving morning giddy with excitement at the prospect of transforming a big naked bird, with creepy goosebump skin and a disgusting little bag with the neck, gizzards, kidneys and gallstones deep inside its cavity, into a culinary wonder.

But I never have been that woman and never will be.

I have learned to accept this. I only hope those who sit at our table have learned to accept this.

I awake Thanksgiving morning and prepare for battle. It will be me and the turkey—and only one of us will win.


Step 1: I pull the bird from the refrigerator and am shocked that it is still partially frozen. Every year for nearly 40 years the bird is still partially frozen and every year for nearly 40 years I am shocked.

Step 2: I check that the turkey hotline is in my cell phone under favorites.

Step 3: I begin sharpening knives hoping some visual intimidation will give me an edge over the bird. I even say so aloud throwing in some trash talk. “You’re fowl,” I hiss to the bird.

The turkey’s entire body shakes with laughter.

Step 4: I don my apron with big bold letters that say, “IN IT TO WIN IT!”

The turkey again responds, shaking with laughter. This time it shakes so hard that it bounces toward the edge of the counter and nearly falls to the floor.

“See if I care!” I shout as I lunge and push it back to safety. The bird and I have a long-standing complex love-hate thing going.

Step 5: I regroup, do some deep breathing, slowly circle the bird three times, then abruptly grab it, putting it in a half Nelson, or a quarter Nelson, whatever. The bird slips from my grip. I attack again; this time using a hammerlock. We tussle rough and tumble. The ruckus continues and the outcome appears uncertain.

I’m sweating, turkey juice is smeared all over the countertop, cookware is scattered on the floor and a turkey gizzard is sliding down a cabinet door—but I have prevailed. I have set a record, having ripped the plastic wrapper from the bird in under 7 minutes.

I take a short break and recaffeinate. In only four more ugly takedowns the bird is stuffed, basted and planted in the roaster.

I can taste victory. It has hints of sage, celery and yellow onion.


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